Feline Yearly Preventathve Health Care

Preventative Wellness Physical Examination & Consultation: Preventative Wellness Physical Examination & Consultation by a Veterinarian should begin before birth, with the prenatal care of the mother. Upon birth, all kittens need to have physical exams on a weekly basis to ensure proper growth and development until 6 weeks of age, and to answer all your questions regarding infant nurturing. Starting at 6 weeks of age, kittens should be physically examined by a Veterinarian monthly to ensure proper development, detect any growth deformities, and to answer all your concerns, until they reach 1-year of age. Starting at 1-year of age, all adult cats should have a Preventative Wellness Physical Examination & Consultation with a Veterinarian at least once a year to ensure they maintain a good patient-doctor relationship, and so that the Veterinarian can address all your cat’s wellness and preventative care needs in a timely manner. Mature adult cats who are 7-years old or older should have Preventative Wellness Physical Exams & Consultations at minimum of twice a year, because illnesses and diseases in older cats occur faster and with much more severity than in younger cats.

Exams and Consultations done for the purpose of diagnosing an illness do not replace or remove the necessity of at least one Preventative Wellness Physical Examination & Consultation a year for the life of your cat, as there are different purposes, discussions, and outcomes between a sick-patient visit and a well-patient visit.

Vaccination: First time vaccination is recommended for all cats at 6 weeks to 8 weeks of age. Kittens will require booster vaccination at 12 weeks, 16 weeks, and 20 weeks of age to acquire full immunity to the most fatal of feline diseases. Once a kitten has completed the entire vaccine booster series and has reached 1-year of age, adult cats require vaccination bi-annually, annually, or every three years depending upon the assessment of your adult cat’s risk of exposure to these feline diseases. Failure to vaccinate your cat in accordance with their lifestyle exposure increases their risk of becoming infected with these very communicable diseases. Yearly Preventative Wellness Physical Examination & Consultation is required to receive any vaccinations to ensure the vaccines are administered in accordance with your cat’s lifestyle risk.

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Heartworm Screening Tests: Heartworm Disease is a parasitic worm transmitted by mosquito bite, and is believed to be one of the causes behind feline asthma. Kittens should be started on a heartworm preventative medication as young as 9 weeks of age, and given a heartworm preventative medication once a month, year round, for the rest of their life. Heartworm preventative medication dosage is determined by weight, so as a kitten grows, they will require frequent weigh-ins at the animal hospital to make sure they are receiving the proper dose of medication. All cats 6-months of age or older require annual Heartworm Screening Tests to insure that the heartworm preventative medication is providing them with full protection. Failure to give a heartworm preventative medication once a month all year round increases a cat’s risk of developing feline asthma. Yearly Preventative Wellness Physical Exam & Consultation, and annual Heartworm Screening Tests are required to renew all prescriptions of heartworm preventative medication.

FeLV/FIV Screening: If your cat is outdoor roaming we highly recommend yearly screening for Feline Leukemia (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). These two diseases are very contagious, have no known cures, and can impact the health of your pet. Any new kittens being adopted should be screened for these two disease before being introduced to any other cats in the family.

Fecal Analysis: Various parasitic worms and bacteria live in the intestines of cats, and are transmissible to people. Kittens should have a Fecal Analysis done on a monthly basis starting at 6 weeks of age until at least 1 year of age, and receive prophylaxis de-worming at 6 weeks, 12 weeks, 16 weeks, and 20 weeks of age. Fecal Analysis also screens for parasites not treated by prophylaxis de-worming, and allows us the ability to prescribe appropriate medication to treat additional parasites. Adult cats on a heartworm preventative medication once a month, year round, are also protected against a variety of parasitic intestinal worms, and require an annual Fecal Analysis to make sure the preventative medication is providing full protection. Annual Fecal Analysis also screens for parasites not prevented by a heartworm preventative medication. Failure to detect a parasitic intestinal infection in your cat in a timely manner exposes your family to the possibility of getting parasitic intestinal infections themselves.

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Flea, Mosquito, & Tick Prevention: These parasites transmit to cats a plethora of diseases, so preventing them from even biting your cat is paramount to their wellness. A high-quality, flea, mosquito, and tick preventative medication should be given to your cat year round, for their entire life, starting at the youngest age as stated as safe on the package. Flea, mosquito, and tick preventative medication dosage is determined by weight, so as a kitten grows, they will require frequent weigh-ins at the animal hospital to make sure they are receiving the proper dose of medication to provide full protection. Failure to give your cat a flea, mosquito, and tick preventative medication all year round increases a cat’s risk of becoming infected with diseases passed through the bite of fleas, mosquitoes, and ticks. Not using a flea, mosquito, & tick preventative medication for your cat also increases the likelihood that your home will also become a home for fleas, mosquitoes, and ticks, since these parasites are active all year, and thrive very well during the winter inside our heated houses.

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Dental Health: Kittens are born with no teeth, and then develop their baby teeth beginning at 3 weeks to 4 weeks of age. These baby teeth can be very sharp, so it is not recommended to teach your kitten to play bite, or to allow them to nip at hands and feet. A kitten’s baby teeth begin to fall out around 3 months to 4 months of age to be replaced with the adult teeth they will have for their lifetime. It is recommended that you begin to get your kitten used to daily teeth brushing the moment they develop teeth, and maintain the habit at least once a day, every day, for the rest of your cat’s life. There is a variety of different styles of toothbrushes, so you are sure to find one that is comfortable for you and your cat. Never use human toothpaste, as it contains fluoride, which is toxic to cats, and your Veterinarian can recommend a cat specific toothpaste that would be more agreeable in safety and flavor. Yearly Preventative Wellness Physical Examinations & Consultations include the assessment of your cat’s mouth and teeth, and depending upon the degree of tarter build-up and plaque, the Veterinarian may recommend prophylaxis teeth cleaning and polishing. Providing your cat with regular dental care will go a long way towards reducing their risks of serious gum disease or teeth falling out, as well as keep their breath fresh. Provide plenty of chewable toys for your cat to chew on, these also clean teeth.

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Nutrition: Proper nutrition of cats starts with the milk of their mother, or a cat specific milk replacement infant diet. Once a kitten is weaned from an infant diet at approximately 4 weeks to 6 weeks of age, they require feeding of a high quality diet specifically formulated for kittens. Kittens require access to food 24 hours a day to prevent low blood sugar. Kittens should be fed this kitten specific diet until they are at least 6 months of age. At 6 months of age, kittens should be gradually switched over to an adult specific diet under the supervision of your Veterinarian. Mature adult cats 7-years old or older should be switched over to a senior specific diet to meet their changing nutritional needs. Clean, fresh water should be provided to all cats all the time. Yearly Preventative Wellness Physical Examination & Consultation allows us the opportunity to discuss with you your cat’s particular nutritional requirements to ensure they are getting the best diet to keep them in good health. Never give your cat dairy products made for human consumption, as cats are lactose intolerant, and will have a stomach upset after drinking milk, or eating cheese.

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Grooming: Whether you take your cat to a professional, or do it yourself, all cats, and all types of breeds, benefit from regular grooming. Minimum grooming requirements of a cat consists of brushing out their fur, shaving mats, bathing, clipping their nails, brushing their teeth, cleaning inside their ears, and expressing their anal glands. The frequency necessary of doing the above depends upon your cat’s breed, the type of fur they have, and their individual predilection for getting dirty. Instilling good grooming manners in your cat should begin at the youngest age possible. The Veterinarian may be able to show you how to perform some of the tasks above yourself, provided your cat is cooperative and allows you to do so. Grooming accidents at home are common, so please use caution when using scissors or clippers on your pet.

Behavior: The optimal age to begin behavior modification and training with your kitten is 6 weeks to 8 weeks old. The first step is enrolling in a Kitten Kindergarten, a group style training class that allows kittens to socialize with a wide variety of people and other cats, provides you with a foundation in the techniques used in behavior modification, and begins the process of teaching your kitten good cat manners. One of the goals of our Veterinarian during an annual Preventative Wellness Physical Examination & Consultation is to discuss with you your relationship with your cat, and problem behaviors of your cat that are causing both of you to experience a decrease in the quality of your companionship. After such a consultation, your Veterinarian can make recommendation as to the type of behavior modification that will benefit both of you, and increase your quality of companionship.

Laser Surgery Spaying or Neutering: Between 5 and 6 months old, your kitten will visit with us for a Pre-Surgical Consultation with the Veterinarian. The Veterinarian will do a comprehensive physical exam, pre-anesthesia blood work, provide that all vaccinations are current, and make sure that any medical conditions your kitten may have are resolved or will not be adversely affected by the laser surgery procedure. This is your opportunity to discuss with the Veterinarian any concerns you have regarding your kitten’s laser surgery, to tour where your kitten will stay, and meet those who will be attending to them. In keeping with our pledge to provide for your kitten the same as we would expect for our own cats, Pre-Surgical Consultations are considered above and beyond the necessary minimum standard of surgical care by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Feline Spaying: The medical name of a “spay” procedure is called an ovariohysterectomy, and involves the removal of the ovaries and uterus from the abdominal cavity. Spaying your female kitten not only prevents pregnancy, but also reduces her risk of getting ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, breast cancer, or an infection of the uterus called pyometra later in life. Spaying your female kitten also eliminates their estrus cycle, commonly known as being in heat, thus reducing the roaming, and restlessness associated with attracting a mate, and eliminating the posturing and vocalizations during a female cat’s estrus.

Feline Neutering: The medical name of a “neuter” procedure is an orchiectomy, and involves the removal of the testes through incisions in the scrotum. Neutering your male cat not only prevents him from fathering kittens, but reduces his risk of getting prostate or testicular cancer later in life. Neutering your male cat may also reduce behaviors such as urine marking, roaming, and fighting with other cats over territory and access to mates.

Limiting anesthesia exposure is one of our goals towards providing a lifetime of wellness to your companions, so our patients only experience the anesthesia that is necessary for procedures that enhance their wellness and reduce lifestyle risks. We make it our priority to see to it your cat has a licensed professional Veterinary Team always by their side during their laser surgery procedure. Follow-up examination and post-surgical care is also very important to us.

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Pain Management In Senior Felines: The older a cat gets, the more likely they are to experience chronic, painful conditions such as arthritis or spondylosis (degeneration of the spinal disks, causing spinal column compression). These conditions cause many cats to suffer pain on a daily basis, restricting their abilities to use the litter box, get around comfortably, eat and drink, or even just move to the places they like most. Unfortunately, these conditions can be very difficulty to treat in cats because of a feline’s unique sensitivity to the most common of pain management medications. Suffolk Veterinary Group is proud to offer our senior cats a pain management that does not require any form of medication. Therapy Laser treatments have shown to be the most effective pain management option available to cats in that it does not require any medications that could affect a senior cat’s liver or kidneys, and can be used even if a senior cat has early renal failure. A Comprehensive Physical Examination is necessary to determine what laser therapy pain management protocols will best benefit your cat.

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Financial Planning: Planning for emergencies can save your family the heartache of unanticipated expenses. We encourage all our cat parents to enroll in a Pet Insurance program that incorporates not only reimbursement for wellness care, but emergency situations as well. CareCredit can spread out veterinary cost through interest free payment plans. Applying for CareCredit is done online at www.CareCredit.com.

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We hope this information helps answers your question regarding what your cat will need to ensure they experience a lifetime of wellness with you. Call 631-696-2400 with any questions you may have about feline health and wellness at Suffolk Veterinary Group.